“Hi there,” my new boss said, rising from their chair to lean over the desk and shake my hand. They had a sharp, crisp-edge shirt on today instead of the flowery blouse sporting the height of embroidery fashion from my interview last month. The cleaner lines made the bones in their cheeks look sharper. “Officially, welcome to the Diplomatic Corp. Today’s just going to be orientation and assignment I’m afraid, so grab whichever one looks the most comfortable to you–” they gestured to the array of five chairs in front of the desk “–we’re going to be here a while.”
Two of the chairs were obviously for different species — the padding for knees (presumably) went in a direction only a yogi could find comfortable. A third was for someone human shaped, at least, although scaled a bit… larger than myself. The divan for the drakes tended to be comfortable for humans too, but I took the human standard chair anyway. The padding looked good.
“Alright then,” my boss said once I’d settled, “first thing I’ve got to ask is if you’re terribly religious?” They gestured at the cross at my neck.
I raised an eyebrow. “Is that even legal to ask?”
“Good on you. Not during your interview or to hold against you, but luckily for everyone here in the Corps, it’s just about finding you a post where you’ll be able to practice without it impacting our missions. And the places it’d be a problem are no more or less prestigious than where it’d be a benefit. Or not relevant. So, terribly religious?”
“Uh, I guess not particularly.”
“Would you be alright not wearing any faith symbols?”
“Where would this be a problem??”
“Lughaidh, capital of Belenus. Or anywhere else in the Orc empire for that matter. The further out in the rural areas you go, the better the odds you’d be murdered for preaching.”
“Just… just for having a symbol of faith?”
“They’re incredibly strict representational democrats with strong beliefs in decentralizing power. I’d say they’re big believers in separation of church and state if they hadn’t eliminated the church several centuries back.”
I sat, stunned, my jaw slack and mind fritzing out. An entire multi-planetary society with no religion at all? My home planet’s preeminent theologians had already been proven wrong once I’d gotten off planet and found multi-religionist planets the norm instead of the exception they’d argued was only right. But no religion at all?
“Look, their motto of ‘No Gods, No Masters’ carries a lot more punch than you’re probably used to in their society. That tends to happen when you can physically point to the decapitated skull of your former chief deity and enslaver over the legislative assembly’s foyer door.”
I just blinked at my boss.
“Right, not Lughaidh then. How do you feel about bodily modifications at the genetic level and cybernetic enhancements?”